Walla Walla Public Schools to trim administrative staff

Three positions are in line to be cut in anticipation of lower state funding next year.

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WALLA WALLA -- Walla Walla Public Schools will reduce its administrative staff by 7.5 percent next year in light of almost certain cuts in the state's funding for public education.

During Tuesday night's board meeting, Superintendent Rich Carter said the district will cut three administrative positions to begin closing a projected $1.5 million shortfall.

The technology director position currently held by Janis Barton will be eliminated next year, with the work absorbed by other administrative staff. Barton will remain with the district although her next position has not been determined.

In the district's support services department, facilities support director Dan Johnson will assume responsibilities of the plant facilities director currently held by Lowell Schneider, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

Finally, Carter announced the appointment of Josh Wolcott, assistant principal at Garrison Middle School, to be principal of Edison Elementary. Edison Principal Nancy Withycombe recently announced her retirement from education, to take effect at the end of the school year.

The assistant principal vacancy left at Garrison will eventually be filled internally, Carter said.

District communications director Mark Higgins said the proposed administrative shifts will save the district nearly $400,000 and cut the administrative team by 7.5 percent.

In the next few weeks, as state education funding is finalized in the Legislature, the district will look at other ways to cut back.

"That's just the start of it," Carter said. "We need to cut deeper. And we will."

Existing cuts implemented during last year's shortfall will remain in place. Carter stressed to the board that the district was doing everything it could to keep cuts out of classrooms.

Maria P. Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/schoolhousemissives.

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